Leaving Vavau for Ha'apai

20130522 Wednesday –To the Start Line

 

The Customs area in the harbour is full of passengers waiting to board the ferry which, though scheduled to leave at 10am is still loading cargo.

As we complete the necessary paperwork we enquire as to where the Harbour Master office is as we know it has moved from the port.

 

You should have gone there first says our man and after a little admonishment he sends us on our way clutching our paperwork.

How handy, the new office for the Port Authority has moved from above Customs to a kilometre or two out of town.

 

After a long sweaty trudge in the burning tropic sun and several enquiries along the way we find it and are promptly dealt with by a lady

announcing she is the one we seek. Fifteen and a half Pa’anga (£6) later we retrace our steps back into town to the Immigration Offices and more form filling.

 

By now its 11 o’clock and we have to keep our appointment with the boys at the Pool Bar. Earlier in the week my computer

had thrown a wobbler and though it appeared to have downloaded a shed load of pictures from the chip it lied! Unfortunately

it had all been done in a rush as we were going back onto the reef and I wiped the chip for the next filming session … say no more.

 

Included in this the process my images of a tin of “Tafi” beer plus many others were lost, and I was prepared at great risk to life and limb to return to this establishment to retake that picture.

 

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Due to the mornings exertions a few “Tafi’s” were required to restore our composure and as we took our ease several others arrived.

Solenn, complete with her baggage as she was moving ashore as an understudy to a local artist/woodcarver and André who yacht she had been staying on.

 

By now it was lunch time so a couple of pies and chips later we return to the yacht and motored off to the island that would provide good snorkelling and an anchorage for our early morning departure.

 

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Anchoring in 7 metres it was clearly visible on the bottom through the crystal clear waters. Swimming across the sandy bottom

we came across several small isolated coral patches each with their own colonies of fish of various species, until we reached the main reef which rose steeply from the bottom to within a metres of the surface.

 

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We explored the island, its shore line littered with coconuts in various stages of sprouting, ready to add to the verdant forest that already

covered it down to the beach. The only signs of life were some Heron type bird prints and our own which had sunk deeply into the soft white sand.

 

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A fresh water shower off the stern, a G&T in hand then watch the sunset over the islands. It’s got to be better than a rainy day in Aberystwyth?

 

 

 

 

20130523 Thursday We’re Off

 

Sunrise and on deck the sun awning are removed, engine on, anchor up and were off. There’s no wind and it’s hot already.

The seas are calm as we motor away from the anchorage and head south past the string of islands making up the Vava’u group to the Ha’apai Group that are all part of the Tongan fault line.

 

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We drive through a flock of birds fishing in the early morning light and a little while later, flying fish scatter on our approach.

The mainsail is up though the wind has yet to appear in any useful strength so we motorsail on trying to maintain speed to get us to Ha’ano island the first in this group, before sunset.

 

Meanwhile the kettle’s on and breakfast is served. The wind gradually pick up enough to switch off the engine while still maintaining

a good 6 knots and would put our ERA around 5pm, an hour and half before sunset.

 

The seas increase to a two metre swell but it’s just off the stern, giving little spurts of speed when we surf down a face.

Noon arrives with the Sun curiously, high to the North (one of the quirks of being south of the equator), Lunch, a beer and a book so the day passes.

 

For feel of the South Pacific and its islands I can recommend James Michener’s collection of stories of “Turbulent adventures and bold courage

on the South Seas” entitled “Rascals in Paradise”, which covers many of the places we have visited.

 

Three pm and about two hours or ten miles off we spot the island which sits flat and low  in the water (about 90ft, the top of the coconut trees),

with a long reef extending from it. This has roaring surf breaking on it sending a mist of spray into the air above.

 

Four thirty. The water surrounding the island is full of reefs and heads as we carefully thread our way through and anchor in a sandy patch between them.

In 10 metres of water the anchor is clearly visible on the bottom. There are three huts on cleared land behind the beach ahead of us and we are greeted by a bellowing cow, well it makes a change from crowing cockerels.

 

Snorkel gear on we swim over to check the anchor and then over to a large reef ahead of us. Its one of the nicest I’ve seen with wide variety of corals it’s a kaleidoscope of colour.

 

With perfect timing we arrive back. Its 5pm and as Blog followers will be aware its that happy time of day and as the sun sets slowly in the West we sip our G&T’s contemplate life and its mysteries and watch the glowing orb of Sun sink slowly into the sea.

 

 

Bob the Blog